New Books on the Block

UNCW alum Holly Bader opens indie Papercut Books in downtown Wilmington

Last week, Wilmington’s newest independent bookstore opened its doors on Market Street. You’ll recognize Papercut Books from the lush fern out front and the small shelf of books marked FREE. Offering a selection to the community at no cost is one of just a few ways Papercut Books owner Holly Bader hopes to give back to Wilmington, where she’s lived her whole life, something she notes is “somewhat rare these days.”

Holly cites reading as one of the foundational parts of her youth, and of course a major influence in her decision to jump into bookselling. Growing up roaming acres of wilderness in nearby Hampstead without much television, reading offered entertainment, fueled her interiority, and sparked her lifelong love of books. For years, the memory of getting great, personalized recommendations at Buxton Village Books on the Outer Banks has stuck with her. Then as a young adult, she learned the ins and outs of running a small business with her family—“we built transmission power lines, go figure!” When she saw the opportunity to open up her own shop, she took it. It was the perfect marriage of passion and experience.

Inside Papercut, readers will find books at a range of prices. “Not everyone can afford the pristine new releases, especially hardcovers,” she said. “So I wanted to make sure I stocked enough great lightly used or vintage books that everyone could be comfortable shopping around here. I don’t think you should ever leave a bookstore feeling worse than you went in, ever.” She also has an affinity for the beautiful covers of the 1950s and 60s, and the store is, ultimately, a reflection of her personal interests. But she’s not doing it all on her own.

“My husband and I have been working seven days a week trying to get all the work done for the store.” They’re thrilled to finally welcome Wilmingtonians in to peruse the freshly stocked shelves. Holly wanted to offer a title to every type of reader—romance novels, fantasy, young adult fiction, parenting, new releases, and more. She’s been meeting with authors and independent presses, and looks forward to expanding Papercut’s offerings to give indies a wider audience. She’s relied on Ingram’s Indie Vault to help find the new books that feel right for Papercut, and is also taking inspiration from bookstagram accounts, through which real people share their genuine excitement about different titles.

“How Papercut interacts with the community is always going to be very important to me,” Holly said. The bookstore will soon host The People’s Book Club, an opportunity for Wilmington readers to find new authors and stories, and to “learn a bit more about each other, and how books can really shape the people that we become.” Once the shop has its footing, Holly looks forward to implementing community assistance days during which proceeds will benefit local nonprofit organizations like The Feast Gathering or Nourish NC.

In addition to books, Papercut stocks an array of candles, soaps, cards, toys for children, jewelry, and tote bags, among other items. “I’d love to become a one-stop shop for people to be able to create a perfect gift set in store,” Holly said. She hopes that Papercut will have its own unique personality, and feel “like a new friend.”

“I hope it feels homey, open and relaxing, like a breath of fresh air. I hope there’s always a new book for customers here, something they wouldn’t have found otherwise.”

Thank you to Lookout staffer Marissa Castrigno for her contributions to this interview.